Monthly ArchiveJuly 2023

Pessaḥ- An Etymology

Yoel Halevi One comments


The translation of ancient texts presents an intricate tapestry where linguistic nuances and cultural contexts intertwine. In the realm of biblical scholarship, the term פסח, commonly translated as “Passover,” bears not only a linguistic translation but also an interpretative weight that shapes our understanding of a significant ceremonial event. This paper delves into the etymological intricacies of פסח, examining its dual meanings of “to limp” and “to protect.” Drawing on linguistic evolution and historical interpretations, we navigate through the genesis of the term “Passover” and explore whether this translation accurately encapsulates the rich layers of meaning embedded in the original Hebrew. By scrutinizing various biblical passages and extrabiblical sources, we aim to unveil a more nuanced understanding of פסח as an apotropaic ritual designed for the protection of the Israelites during the Exodus.

Exodus 7:9 The Tannîn

Yoel Halevi No Comments

It is an established concept that words in Biblical Hebrew may mean more than one thing, while others can mean only one. In the following paper, I will examine the word Tannin used in Exodus 7:9 and see if this specific word has been treated correctly by translations and commentaries and rendered as “snake”.

The Verses in question

כִּי יְדַבֵּר אֲלֵכֶם פַּרְעֹה לֵאמֹר תְּנוּ לָכֶם מוֹפֵת וְאָמַרְתָּ אֶל אַהֲרֹן קַח אֶת מַטְּךָ וְהַשְׁלֵךְ לִפְנֵי פַרְעֹה יְהִי לְתַנִּין

This verse has been translated in a relatively consistent way in multiple translations:

Amos 6:3- Hebrew vs. Greek

Yoel Halevi No Comments


This study examines a translational discrepancy in Amos 6:3 between the Hebrew text and the Greek rendering in the Septuagint. In the original Hebrew, the term שֶׁבֶת חָמָס (shevet hamas) conveys the notion of a “throne of violence” or “seat of oppression,” symbolizing a judicial seat utilized for unjust purposes. Rooted in the verb שׁבת (shavat), denoting sitting or dwelling, the term aligns with Amos’s broader critique of leadership during a period of affluence and moral decay. However, the Greek translation introduces σάββατον(sabbaton), denoting the Sabbath day, resulting in an interpretation emphasizing a “false Sabbath” and deviating from the original focus on oppressive leadership. This misinterpretation may stem from attempts to harmonize with related passages or cultural nuances. The study highlights challenges in cross-linguistic and cross-cultural biblical translation, emphasizing the potential for misreadings by translators contributing to the Septuagint.


Amos 6:3, Septuagint Biblical Translation, Greek Rendering, שֶׁבֶת חָמָס (shevet hamas), Throne of Violence, Sabbath

The different translations to Greek

Realism in Jeremiah 24

Yoel Halevi No Comments

The subject of imagery in prophecy has long been a central theme in prophetic literature. One key question in this field of study pertains to the origin of the prophets’ imagery. While the traditional view regards this imagery as an integral aspect of the vision, it is essential to consider whether God employed imagery tailored to resonate with the specific individuals of their time. To delve into this subject, I will explore a specific image used in the book of Jeremiah.

Nehemiah 8 Yom Teruah and Sukkot

Yoel Halevi No Comments

In this new study, I dive into the history of the Torah community in Judea in the 5th century and the Persian era. I discuss the place of the community during this time and the function of Ezra and the Torah of Moses. 


Persian agendas and treatment of social groups.

Torah and Torah keeping.

Ezra and Nehemiah- Men and the history of the books. 

The seventh month.

Nehemiah 8 and Leviticus 23. 

A Kid in Its Mother’s Milk

Yoel Halevi 3 comments


This paper will discuss the meaning and context of the law regarding cooking/boiling a kid in its mother’s milk. The paper will examine the different interpretations and will present the most reasonable interpretation of the commandment. 

  1. Verses and context

The commandment not to cook a kid in its mother’s milk appears three times in the biblical text with the exact same wording. It is important to note that the MT reads ḥălēv (milk) and not ḥēlev (fat). If anyone wants to argue that the prohibition is about fat and not milk one has to prove without a doubt that the MT uses the wrong reading (Some Egyptian Karaites who didn’t read Hebrew very well made this mistake in the past). However, Jewish reading traditions, Samaritan, and Greek traditions show it is milk. Hence, the discussion will only be based on this common reading and not the speculation of what may have been (Propp, 2006, 286).

The Fasts of Zekharyah 7-8

Yoel Halevi No Comments

In this in-depth discussion, Yoel dives into the Hebrew text of Zekharyah (Zechariah) 7-8 which talks about a question sent to the prophet about a private practice of fasting. This practice expanded throughout time and became a common public fast in Judea.

Ezekiel 44:20

Yoel Halevi One comments

There is an interesting question raised in the laws about the Kohanim in Ezekiel 44:20

וְרֹאשָׁם לֹא יְגַלֵּחוּ וּפֶרַע לֹא יְשַׁלֵּחוּ כָּסוֹם יִכְסְמוּ אֶת רָאשֵׁיהֶם

“They are not to shave their heads or let their hair grow long, but must keep their hair carefully trimmed”

The above translation uses the traditional Jewish understanding of the verbs כָּסוֹם יִכְסְמוּ which understands that the Kohanim are to have short trimmed hair. This understanding is based on the analysis that the root is כסס which means “to trim, cut very small”. However, this verb is primarily common in Hebrew after the bible and is probably not the root or the meaning. 

It is more likely that the root is כסמ and that contextually it means “to keep fashioned and organized”. This can be understood from the context of prohibiting shaving the head and growing the hair wild. Hence, Ezekiel is presenting laws similar to that in Leviticus 21:5&10

לֹא (יקרחה) יִקְרְחוּ קָרְחָה בְּרֹאשָׁם

אֶת רֹאשׁוֹ לֹא יִפְרָע וּבְגָדָיו לֹא יִפְרֹם

“They are not to make bald spots on their heads…”

He is not to make his hair wild (i.e., stop grooming his hair), and he will not tear his clothes”.

The above verses are used for regular kohanim and the high kohen, but Ezekiel has enhanced laws that expanded the rules to both types of kohanim and are based on Torah law. Why this is done is unclear to me, but it is clear that Ezekiel knows the laws of the Torah and the prophecy uses them. 

Haftarot Tazri’a-Metzor’a

Yoel Halevi No Comments

Torah Portions Tazri’a-Metzor’a

Yoel Halevi No Comments

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